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Where Does the Money Go?

This week we are going to breakdown your wedding budget. It is not as exciting as flowers but it is the most important part of the wedding planning process. You have probably seen pie graphs saying that flowers is 10% of your budget, but I do not necessarily agree with this. For some of us, flowers may be more important than the photographer (15%) or maybe you don't want a videographer and now have extra money. Let's dive deeper into wedding budgets to help you build just the right budget for you.

Things to Consider

  • Who is paying for what?

  • How to properly allocate the funds

  • Keep track of how much you spend

  • Save as much as you can where you can

Divvying it up

Who is paying for what is the first thing you must know. We know that we aren't cookie cutter people planning cookie cutter weddings, every wedding is going to be different. So let's talk about who is paying for what. This is a sensitive subject for most couples. How much is your family paying? How much is your spouse's family paying? How much are you paying?


Traditionally, the bride's family pays for the wedding and the groom's family pays for the rehearsal dinner. The bride pays for the groom's ring, hair & makeup, favors, and gift for the groom. The groom pays for marriage license, bride's rings, officiant, gift for the bride, favors, mother's flowers, boutonnieres, and the honeymoon.


Tradition isn't always the way to do it and you should be extremely grateful for any amount that is provided by either family. If they are contributing, ask them for a dollar amount, otherwise, you may pay for the small things first and not have enough for the photographer that you really want.


Considering the cost of things is a good place to start. If you want a formal event with plated dinner it will cost more than your rustic BBQ buffet. There is nothing wrong with either of these options, just a difference in price. Consider the guest list. If you want the elegant feel but don't have the money to do it for 150 of your closest friends and family, drop your guest list to 25-50 people and have a more intimate setting. Consider the location. If you are in downtown Dallas mansion it will cost you more than if you were in a barn in Melissa. Picking a date can effect the pricing. Think about off season/peak season and weekends/weekdays.


Deciding Priorities

The average price for a Dallas wedding is $30,000. Using the graph above this allows:

-Venue and catering (40%): $12,000

-Photography (15%): $4,500

-Music (10%): $3,000

-Flowers (10%): $3,000

-Decor (10%): $3,000

-Attire (5%): $1,500

-Transportation (3%): $900

-Stationary (3%): $900

-Favors (2%): $600

-Cake (2%): $600

This is what this graph is telling you to spend. To put this into perspective, I am listing out my personal wedding budget below for my $29,300 wedding.

-Venue and catering (44%): $ 13,000

-Photography and videography (10%): $3,000

-Music (3%): $850

-Flowers (9%): $2,500

-Decor (5%): $1,500

-Attire (13%): $3,650

-Transportation (1%): $425

-Stationary (2%): $500

-Favors (0%): n/a

-Cake (1%): $400

-Photobooth (3%): $875

-Rehearsal Dinner (9%): $2,600

In my personal example, my venue and attire were my priorities so I paid more for those. If you are dead set on the $8,000 photographer, that is completely doable but then you need to make sacrifices somewhere else to stay within your budget.

Keep Track

A budget is pointless if you are not paying attention to how much you are spending. Find a system that works best for you. For me that is an Excel spreadsheet on what was spent and where. The Knot and Wedding Wire also have a budget calculator if that is easier for you. No matter where you log it, find 1 system and stick to it. Log every single transaction that is for your wedding, even if it is just $5 worth of guest book pens.


Know the full price for something before signing your contract. If you have less guests RSVP than anticipated updated your vendors before the wedding. This can allow you to save money on catering and mean less tables bringing down price for linens and floral centerpieces as well.


Ask your venue about service fees that might be for the day of. Remember trials are not normally free. Trials are for hair, makeup, and even floral. Set aside "Oh Shit" funds, this is for those stamps that you forgot about for your invitations or the napkins you didn't think about needing. Also set aside money for tipping your vendors the day of. Traditionally you tip all of your vendors that are providing a service. Between "Oh Shit" funds and tips, I personally recommend setting aside $2,000.


How to Save Money

Weddings are expensive so try to save money where possible. A couple of options include size, food, invitations, and even cake. First, decide your priorities and if a videographer is not important to you than cut them from your vendor list. Picking a date can even save you a couple thousand dollars. If you choose a Sunday in February you will save quite a bit of money compared to a Saturday in October. Look at getting married in the off season to determine a date if you are trying to save money. Reducing the amount of guests also helps reduce cost... less guests, less centerpieces, less food, less chairs and tables, less drinks, etc. Skip Save the Dates and ceremony programs or even use a free website with the availability for online RSVPs to save money on printing. Switch out those $9 Ranunculus flowers for a $2 Garden Rose to save on flowers. Dessert bars can also save you money instead of spending $800 on a wedding cake plus a cutting fee for your servers to cut and serve. There are so many other ways to save money on your wedding and this is just a start, feel free to reach out to me for more ideas.

While not the most exciting part of planning a wedding, the wedding budget is definitely the most important part of the wedding planning process. Without a budget you will spend more than what you have. Know who is paying for what, properly allocate your funds by creating a priority list, know how much you are spending, and save when possible.


*all photos by Magnolia Manor Creations

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